Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Using a medium format lens on the Sony A7r Part II

This part shows the results of my testing with the 80mm - tomorrow promises to have clouds so I'll be using the 55LS.

Overall I'm very pleased with what I'm getting and feel the downside is caused by user error more than equipment failure.  I started this project doing handheld shots and feel I should continue that way.  I've had a few missed focus point however again I'll take the blame.

Three images follow, in each case the non-post processed is followed by one that is slightly processed.  The last image surprised me so I had to offer 3-samples. 

1/1600 ISO 8000

After some slight post processing which includes individual level adjustment (red, green and blue) then filter section and shake reduction.

Just a bit noisy however I think if I worked it just a little more I could have toned it down.
1/1600 ISO 64

After some slight post processing that includes individual level adjustment (red, green and blue) then over to the filter section some slight work in the sky with Nik Viveza 2.
Three samples next.  First and second have no post processing; the second is a 100% crop showing the fine details.  The third contains slight post processing that includes individual level adjustment (red, green and blue) then over to the filter section and shake reduction.  I'll admit that I screwed up focusing on the leaf instead of the front bud and this was handheld.  Yet this shows me the potential.
1/160 ISO 500

100% crop

After processing
I test the way I shoot.  In other words I shoot landscape, nature and wildlife so that's what I test in order to see what I can achieve for my own work.  Also I absolutely hate JPEG files as I know that they don't/can't show the true finished work; in short my personal opinion is they suck.  Now that's off my chest I'll say that as good as some if not all this images look they look much better on my calibrated monitors in full resolution Tiff format - hell if they didn't they'd never see the light of day.
I plan on continuing the test with the 55LS then on to the long lens just to see their capability.  While I have no real interest in what the 240 alone can produce on a Sony I will do it because in one-way I'm interested in seeing what it looks like mounted on the camera!
The adaptor being used is a dumb adaptor (my words).  By this I mean its sole purpose is to be able to mount a larger than normal (medium format) lens with its own mounting system onto a 35mm camera, in this case a Sony E-mount A7r (as well as the Sony NEX line of cameras).  When using this type of adaptor you loose the ability to autofocus as well as setting the aperture setting (f/stop).  What you're left with is the ability to set shutter speeds and ISO levels (which is the reason you see some extremely high shutter speeds and ISO).  All in all not a game changer as you can see.
The Sony A7 and 7r has a method to enhance manual focusing by adding a mask (in my case I selected red out of the options).  You move the focus ring on the lens and as soon as you get into focus pieced of the subject turn red.  Very easy.
So what's next?  I'm slowly working through my medium format 645 lens.  The 80 and 120 are done.  Next I'll try the 55LS before the 150 and finally the 240. 
Does this mean I'll be switching my main capture method from medium format?  The short answer is no.  The reason is that no matter how nice a 35mm camera is; it's still a 35mm format and smaller when compared to medium format.  I see the Sony A7r as the new little puppy that wants to jump in your truck every time you go out; it'll have a purpose once it's trained but it'll never replace my old dog, medium format.
Stay tuned for more.



Using a medium format lens on a Sony A7r Part III

Schneider 55mm LS 1/3200 ISO 100
This will be the third and final installment of my results testing medium format lens on a Sony A7r.   
I've been surprised and pleased at the results of the lenses I tested; each lens gave me files that were superior in image quality.  While using an adaptor removes the aperture setting function I quickly adapted and overcame that by using the cameras live view and metering setting the shutter and ISO to achieve great captures.  The lack of auto focus was quickly overcome by using the focus mask alerting me when I was in fact focused.  All in all I found using the Sony A7r no more difficult that with the 35mm or 55mm FE lenses that have been released.
80mm 1/160 ISO 500 (100% crop)
The difference of course is noted in the ergonomics.  Using the Sony OEM E-mount lenses and you have a small package that easily fits in your hand with little weight.  However adding the adaptor adds length as it is easily the same size as the 35mm lens.  All this before you put the first lens on!  In my case I have 5-medium format lenses branded by Phase One, Schneider and Mamiya.  These lenses are 55mm LS, 80mm, 120 macro, 150mm and the newer 240mm LS. 

55mm LS attached
One (of many) surprises for me was how well (most) of these lenses fit in my hand.  The 55mm attached to the adaptor was extremely light to hold and operate; the main reason is the weight comparisons between the Sony A7r and my Phase One DF body with a Phase One IQ160 digital back.  There's always trade offs.  Using the DF and IQ I have a handful that can by itself weight a lot before putting a lens one.  There's a huge difference in handling and weight between the Sony and DF bodies.  That difference shows up when using the lens that's attached.  Every lens I attached felt lighter and was easy to use.  The shorter lenses did not show a top heavy feeling that I thought they would.  Actually the only lens in my lineup that felt awkward was the 240 attached to the 2x extender.
55mm LS 1/250 ISO 640

Where does this leave me?  I'm certainly not giving up medium format.  However what I've learned is that if I want or need a smaller form such as the Sony A7r with the great image quality that a medium format lens offers I wouldn't hesitate to use the combination.  Actually, my favorite lens tested was the Mamiya 120mm macro. 
80mm attached
120mm attached
The lenses I used are owned by me.  The Sony A7r likewise is owned my me.  I see the Sony A7r  as the system I'll carry in my truck and around town when I don't need or want a heavy medium format system.  I've got a few hikes in Jackson Hole coming up that I want to concentrate more on what I'm seeing and the route than carrying heavy equipment for the first time; thus the Sony A7r will come in very handy for scouting adventures. 

I've added images of all the lenses attached to the Sony so that you can see what they look like.  I've also added a couple samples of the processed images from various lens again to give you a flavor of what to expect.
120mm macro 1/60 ISO 200

120mm macro 1/80 ISO 400

35mm will in my opinion never replace medium format no matter the sensor used or amount of megapixels.  Medium format offers among others, higher image quality as well as a much larger sensor.  There is a focal difference between medium format and 35mm due to the differences in film or sensor size.  For example:  55mm equals 35mm in 35mm terms, 80mm equals 51mm, 120mm equals 77mm, 150mm equals 96mm likewise 240mm equals 154mm and when the 240 is doubled to 480mm it equals 308mm in 35mm terms.  Resolution remains the same.  The Sony A7r is 36 megapixels and my Phase One IQ160 digital back is 60.  In other words even using the 55mm LS on the Sony will still result in a 35mm focal length the same as when I use it on the Phase One DF/IQ 160.  One of the major differences is the resolution not to mention the difference in sensors.
150mm attached

240mm & 2x extender attached - close to 36" long!

480mm 1/4000 ISO 2000 handheld!
The shot above was captured from this point.  The second image is to show the distance.

Sony 35mm (this was taken several days later)
I had fun doing this and learned something at the same time.

Thank you once again for allowing me to share, and remember, feel free to contact me if you have any questions or suggestions.








Friday, February 14, 2014

Using a medium format lens on the Sony A7r Part I

Mamiya 120mm macro 1/60 ISO 200
I've been following various threads on the forums on how owners/testers of the new Sony A7r have been using various lens from Canon, Nikon and Leica.  All 35mm lens.  It started me thinking.  Which as anyone who knows me well will tell you that can be a bad idea....
"B"- Shake Reduction applied

Last year Sandy converted from using her Canon 1DsIII to the new Sony and has been very pleased with not only the performance but the camera size as well.  She had tried the Sony with her Canon lenses and found the combination not to her liking.  Fast forward to now and all the Canon gear has been sold.  I liked the Sony so much that I ended up buying it as a birthday present to myself (okay that's the excuse I used).  Currently we have the 55mm and 35mm full-frame lenses and are awaiting the release of the 24-70 and 70-200.
Mamiya 120mm macro 1/60 ISO 320
My main camera I use to capture landscape has been (and will continue to be) a Cambo WRS technical body while using a Phase One DF body.  My current digital back, the IQ160 is swapped backed and forth between the two systems thus allowing for the same image quality.  Only the lenses are not capably of being swapped between the two systems.
"B"- Shake Reduction applied
Earlier this month after reading yet again about how well various lenses are working with the Sony A7r I began to wonder how medium format lens would work.  I took delivery of a Fotodiox Pro NEX adaptor F/Mamiya 645.  This adaptor advertises that I'll be able to use it to mount my Mamiya/Phase 645 medium format lenses to a Sony camera which has an E-lens mount such as either my IR converted NEX7 or the A7r.
It does.
Mamiya 120mm macro 1/60 ISO 320
The adaptor is what I'd call an dumb adaptor in that it only allows you to mount lenses of one size to the smaller Sony E mounting without any electrical interface.  I ended up being able to mount a 645 medium format lens without a problem.  You gain the use of medium format lenses.  You lose the ability to change aperture so what the lens is rated for at its maximum that's what you end up shooting.  You also must use manual focus which I quickly found is no big deal with the A7r.  I experimented last night with the limited time I had available with 2-lenses.  My 80mm and 120mm macro.  I found that by adjusting both the ISO and shutter speeds I was able to get good images.

"B" Shake Reduction applied

One note on last night and the images provided here.  I really didn't like what I got with the 80mm and plan to reshoot it.  All the images presented here are with the 120.  There is no post processing done in any other than the "b" image where as a normal work flow whenever I shoot handheld I've begun using "Shake Reduction" in CS (sometimes it works well and other times too much).
Mamiya 120mm macro 1/80 ISO 400

"B" Shake Reduction applied
This isn't the end of testing as I have a few more lenses to test so stay tuned.

Fotodiox weights 3.2 oz

Attached to my Sony A7r I'll be adding additional images that include the lens attached





Sunday, February 9, 2014

Using the Zeiss Touit 12mm on a Sony A7r.

The lens I've been using on my infrared converted NEX 7 for the past year has been the Zeiss Touit 12mm.  I wondered yesterday what that lens would produce on the Sony A7r.

First some comparisons.   My NEX 7, IR produces files that are 6000x4000 (360 ppi 16 bit RGB, 137.40 MB).  Likewise my A7r (using a 35mm 2.8 or 55mm 1.8) produces files that are 7360x4912 (360 ppi, 16 bit, RGB, 206.90 MB).  So what happens when I use the 12mm on the Sony A7r?  The aspect ratio was set at 3:2. 

The Sony A7r has the ability to automatically switch between APS-C and full frame lenses ( menu, second from top left looks like a wheel then over to the 5th screen and second down to APS-C Size Capture which offers the choice of On-Auto and Off my camera is normally set to auto).  What this does is offer the choice of shooting an APS-C lens like the Zeiss Touit 12mm either in a cropped mode or full size.  The full size will of course produce vignetting which can then be cropped out; but is it worth it...
12mm APS-C Size Capture turn off 

Finished usable crop from above

12mm APS-C Size Capture on Auto
I resized each file to better fit the web to 9x6 at 100 ppi.  Both files were shot at f/2.8 1/100 ISO 400 handheld.  
This was just a fast test last night to answer my own question of how well the Zeiss Touit 12mm would play with my Sony A7r and if it was worth the added effort of shooting with the APS-C Size Capture turned off.  The short answer is yes it plays well and no I'd just as soon keep the APC-S capture on auto.
Hope this answers some questions.  Please contact me if you have any questions or comments.